It’s a nice day tomorrow, my wife said. Are you going to put up the lights?


(frown) And why not?

Don’t have any.

What about the lights in the shed?

I vetted those last summer. Tossed them out. Mostly dead. (This was mostly true. Mostly.)


I’ll get lights at Target on Saturday and put them up.

It’ll be raining and cold on Saturday.

So it will.

It is something of a surprise to learn that my wife, after all these years, does not know I am not the sort of fellow to get boxes of lights before Thanksgiving so I can flip the switch at 12:01 AM while the last morsels of turkey are entering the tertiary phase of digestion. Doesn’t surprise me at all. What did surprise me was this: after dropping daughter off at a sleepover on Friday afternoon, I went to Menard’s for lights, so I coud put them up Saturday before the Target trip.

Menards has its own little village house:



Bought what I thought I’d need, stocked up on peanuts - Menard’s sells my favorite legumes at loss-leader prices - and bought some hand-warmer and foot-warmers for the car, in case we spin off the road and need to keep our feet from losing crucial digits to the cold. To my surprise the lights were half-off: thanks, Black Friday. Come Saturday I dressed warmly and headed outside to put up the lights in the usual spots: a red garland around the door, a blinking light on the front bushes, a few strands around the tree that sits in a tiny patch of ground between the garage and the fence. Every year the tree is taller; every year the job is harder. Our first year here I did the trio of birches out front; that was impossible the second year. But last summer my wife attacked the tree with a pruning shears like Ron Paul going after the Federal Registry, so I had a lot of stumps to work with. I got out the Pole with the Hook and started to drape the strands.

It took an hour. I lost feeling in my feet at :50, and the toes did not report back with a roger-that to the brain until I’d been in a hot shower for five minutes. But I did it, and everything is hooked up to a central unit with a built-in solar-activated timer which is SO COOL. I need more lights, of course. But the big tree - well, it’s magnificent:



Kidding. It's this.


The first picture? The gnarly old tree outside Lunds. I went there Saturday night to get a pizza for supper. They had no good take-and-bakes, so I bought one of their deep-dish frozens. Went home, turned on the oven, put the pizza on the rack - thought, well, should I put a piece of aluminum foil below? Nah - it’s deep dish. Won’t leak. But one never does know, does one. Put down the aluminum foil. Laid down for a brief nap, woke, checked the pizza:


The entire pizza had fallen through the rack. Oh. So. It’s supposed to be baked in the container in which it came. D’oh. The guts of the pizza had fallen on to the foil, sparing me the job of watching my wife clean the oven; I cleaned off the residue and put another sub-standard back-up frozen pizza in the oven. Apparently I missed a tiny bolus of cheese, because it burned and smoked something fierce, and infused the backup pizza with Genuine Smoke Flavor. Six hours later I was hiccuping up Genuine Smoke Flavor. Now: if you sold a pizza with the tagline Genuine Smoked Cheese it would sell well, and people would congratulate themselves on having good taste. Well, some people may be content with a pizza that has cheese, but we like smoked cheese. It’s one of those adjectives people accept as an automatic upgrade, like “wood-fired.” One of the tubs of prefab BBQ in the freezer case insisted that it had “wood-fired” taste. Okay. Meaning? Mmmm-mmm! This meat was cooked in an oven that was powered by cellulose. You can taste the difference!

Really? I saw a goat urinating on the wood before they put in the oven. Can you detect the top note of goat-based micturation?

What? No, it’s wood-fired!

The pizza was horrible. It was a complete and utter failure of a pizza night. It’s been three weeks since I had a weekend pizza night at home - two weeks at sea, then daughter on sleepover. But life is full of small disappointments. Which brings me back to Red Riding.Which we'll deal with tomorrow.

I didn’t buy enough lights, of course. Back to Menard’s on Sunday. This also meant a trip to Target, where I got my first full-fledged GLARE from a woman in the line behind me. Apparently I was holding up her life by telling the clerk to put certain things in a different bag. If you’re thinking I strew items on the belt and told her to bag the ones whose name began with a vowel in a red bag, no. There were three Christmas items, and I wanted these in a red bag so I could sneak them into the house later, not have them mixed with general items that would be unpacked in full view. SHE GLARED. That’s fine; I’ve done my share of glaring too, but it’s usually because someone waited until everything was totaled up to dig in her purse for the checkbook, and I had ice cream. (Ice Cream always adds a note of urgency to checking out. You want to make anyone who shops for groceries act more efficiently, just hang a scround of ice cream around his or her neck. They will redouble their pace because they have to get the ice cream home.)

Were there eggs? Good question. Probably. Target dumped their egg supplier after video surfaced on YouTube of egg-provider employees stuffing chickens in their pants and swinging them around by their necks, and otherwise acting like cruel idiots incapable of empathy with anything that isn’t looking out of a mirror and saying “hey, good lookin’.” Many groceries and restaurants have dumped the supplier. You can’t imagine they’ll stay in business as currently constituted; either they vanish or downsize. People who did nothing wrong will be out of a job because these maroons got frisky with hapless birds. You can only imagine the despair they must be feeling - a brief passing spasm of concern over the welfare of chickens leads to the loss of their livelihood. I’m all for firing the poultry abusers and pressing animal-cruelty charges, but I wonder why that isn’t enough. It’s like the networks refusing to air a Penn State football game again, ever.

Went home, put the rest of the lights up. I didn’t buy enough. I’m short about 150 red lights for the evergreens along the steps. Never done them before. But last night my wife asked:

How about red lights on the evergreens along the steps?

And of course I said: that’s a wonderful idea.


Today: Matchbook addition, and Joe Ohio. The 250+ page site comes tomorrow. Lots of behind-the-scenes work this weekend - still fine-tuning this page. And hey! RSS feed again. So there's that. See you tomorrow!




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